find the latest legal job
Banking Associate - 1-6PQE - Allen & Overy
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: United Kingdom
· Banking Associate - 1-6 PQE - Allen & Overy
View details
Academic Dean and Head of School of the TC Beirne School of Law
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· An outstanding opportunity · Provide educational, research and organisational leadership
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Arncliffe NSW 2205
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Sydney NSW 2000
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Complaints about law firms set for regulatory scrutiny

Complaints about law firms set for regulatory scrutiny

New regulation needs to be introduced to hold accountable the actions of law firms, as well as individual lawyers, according to the Queensland Legal Services Commissioner, John Briton.

NEW regulations needs to be introduced to hold accountable the actions of law firms, as well as individual lawyers, according to the Queensland Legal Services Commissioner, John Briton.


"The time has come to put the spotlight not only on individual lawyers but law firms," he said. 


"The system remains focussed elusively on the conduct of individual lawyers and, with the exception of the handling of trust monies, which has long be subject to audit, that they leave the conduct of law firms entirely beyond regulatory scrutiny," Briton said at a national conference of the Australian Legal Practice Management Association. 


Some law firms have chosen to structure themselves as companies and to trade as incorporated legal practices (ILPs), said Briton, but other firms are finding a notable loophole in avoiding regulation and scrutiny, he said. 


The Commissioner has now called for regulatory scheme "to put principals of all law firms under the same obligations as legal practitioner directors of ILPs". 


New regulation on firms would ensure they keep better management systems, Briton said. It would also empower the Legal Services Commission to "treat all law firms equally, by empowering us to conduct compliance audits of all law firms just as we are empowered now to conduct compliance audits of ILPs".


Briton said he expects his aims to inspire a counter-arguement that the compliance costs of implementing reforms would outweigh the benefits, and that they would impose too great a regulatory burden. 


He added that many firms are likely to argue they are already under the same obligations as legal practitioner directors. 


"It would take a brave sole practitioner or partner to argue that they are not already under the same obligation ... to keep and implement appropriate management systems, albeit an obligation less well articulated and set out in the rules and not in statute."


Another reason regulation should be implemented, Briton said, is that it's "it's as good as inevitable in any event". 


ILPs comprise a sizeable minority of law firms already, he said, and "it is likely on current trends that they will comprise a substantial minority and quite likely even the majority in the medium-term future".


New South Wales has allowed law firms to incorporate since 2001, and the state now has more than 800 incorporated legal practices, or about 20 per cent of all its law firms.  


In Queensland, there were 97 incorporated legal practices on 30 June 2008, only a year after law firms were first allowed to incorporate. There were 170 a year later at 30 June 2009 and 197 or just short of 14 per cent of all Queensland law firms at 31 July this year. 


Briton also launched an attack on the effectiveness of complaints driven regimes, which he said are a useful regulatory tool but an incomplete and ineffective means of regulating standard of conduct in the delivery of legal services. 


"[Complaints driven regimes] confine our gaze to the past. They confine our powers as regulators to dealing with conduct only after the horse has bolted," he said. 





Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Complaints about law firms set for regulatory scrutiny
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Gavel, legal book, criminal lawyers
Jan 19 2018
Three criminal lawyers named NSW magistrates
The NSW Attorney-General has announced the appointment of three new local court magistrates. ...
Warning
Jan 18 2018
Lawyer highlights ‘unintended consequences’ on SSM estate planning
A succession lawyer has warned that the right for same-sex couples to legally marry could have a sub...
drug rehabilitation services available in rural and remote communities
Jan 18 2018
ALS survey shines spotlight on insufficient rehabilitation services
A new survey posted by the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) has revealed an alarming insight into ...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...